Why is my Regius consuming a lot of fuel?

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A Toyota Regius van in Kampala. A reader of this magazine, Claire Eberu, is concerned about the high fuel consumption by her van. But even with a big engine, there are many ways of achieving good fuel economy, including the use of good engine oil. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By Paul Kaganzi

Posted  Thursday, December 12   2013 at  13:14

I recently acquired a Toyota Regius van (petrol), which was manufactured in 1998 and has a 2693 cc engine. My issue is that it is such a fuel guzzler! Could you please advise on alternatives of reducing the fuel intake or how do I go about replacing the engine with a diesel one? Looking forward to your response.
Claire Eberu

Fuel economy is a very important issue to most motorists in Uganda today because it affects our pockets. There are technical as well as non-technical reasons that will lead to poor fuel economy of your 2.7 litre petrol Toyota. The 3RZFE petrol engine on your Regius has 2,693cc and that is not a small engine. Toyota Japan has fitted a double overhead camshaft (DOHC) with 16 valves to provide sufficient air delivery in the combustion chamber so as to increase economy and power.
However, this vehicle is built to shuttle between eight to 10 passengers with their luggage and this weight puts a steep energy (fuel) demand on the engine and fuel supply. The mini bus’s bulky body also encounters road dynamic forces and wind resistance which will add to the energy demand, despite Toyota’s attempt to mitigate this problem by making the front curves a bit aerodynamic.

To improve the fuel economy of this car, you must use good engine oil like Shell Helix HX5 to lubricate the internal engine moving components like pistons and shafts to reduce frictional loss of energy which puts a toll on the fuel reserves. Maintain well the spark plugs, air filter, fuel filter and oxygen sensors in order to ensure optimum and efficient fuel burning by the engine ignition system. These components if neglected will increase poor fuel economy.

The choice of fuel you use can have a significant effect on your fuel consumption. Adulterated or poor quality fuel can cause poor ignition, fuel wastage and engine damage. Toyota Japan recommends unleaded petrol with octane rating (RON) of 91. Octane rating is the standard measure of the performance of a fuel. In other words, the amount of compression a fuel can withstand before detonation.

Choose Shell Fuel Save unleaded petrol because it is a differentiated product that exceeds manufacturer specifications as it lasts longer. Fuelsave unleaded petrol besides providing the required RON, cleans and maintains the engine valves to prevent accumulation of fuel wasting deposits. It also lubricates the upper piston where engine oil ordinarily does not access because of piston ring action. This effect allows easier movement of the piston to reduce the energy (fuel) demand on the engine. These new innovations in Shell Fuel Save unleaded make it last longer in your tank and are sold at no extra cost all over Uganda. Shell is the only fuel dealer in the country with a laboratory that checks all its fuel imports to guarantee quality and sells differentiated products.

On December 2, I went to service my Toyota Ist and realised that the oil the mechanic poured in my car was not sealed (collected left over oil from previous clients). Is it safe for the engine or should I re-service the car?

Your effort to observe what oil was put into your engine at the last service is commendable. I think you should also seek clarification or confirmation that the left over engine oil used from the previous service job was new and not used. During the service of your car, it is possible that in the absence of a small half litre oil can for top up to make your 4.5 litres, the service technician may have got new oil from an unsealed can left over from a top up on a previous job. In case this is what happened, you should not be alarmed.

A car engine service centre should have sealed engine oil in four, one or half litre cans of the same oil to use as top ups. This removes any doubt that used or counterfeit oil may have been used. In the absence of one or half litre cans, a sufficient explanation should be provided to the client as to why they are getting oil top up from an unsealed container to allay potential misunderstanding or suspicion. Your decision to re-service the engine is understandable given the rampant sale of counterfeit lubricant products.

However, first double check. If you have serviced your car at a reputable garage or service bay talk to the manager or quality marshal who will explain in detail why an engine top up was done from an unsealed can. Your Toyota Ist requires engine oil with cleaning agents that prevent formation of sludge or soot deposits which block oil passages. Good engine oil should have better oxidation stability to resist oil degradation throughout the service interval maintaining the oil cleansing, rejuvenating, protective and lubricating benefits throughout the duration. The Shell Helix HX5 15W40 (in yellow cans) will serve that purpose. Insist on buying a sealed can at the Shell station nearest to you.

I bought a Volkswagen Passat car three years ago. I was told by someone then, that the engine should not be washed with water. So my car engine to date has never been washed and the bonnet looks so dirty. Please advise me on how I should wash my engine.
Solomon Walube

Jet washing vehicle engines is usually the cause of engine damage as the water penetrates electrical components like the alternator or circuits of sensitive electrical components. However, you can clean your car engine carefully without causing damage. Use compressed air at a service station to blow away dust in the engine bay and off the internal bonnet lining (remember the air cleaner element).

You can use a cloth dipped in degreasing engine cleaning chemical (sold as a spray at major supermarkets around the country) or a simple house hold detergent in warm water to clean grease or carbon soot off metal surfaces. Avoid pouring soapy water into the engine bay, keep dipping and wringing the cloth in fresh soapy water as you clean the engine.

Thereafter, rinse the engine in the same manner using a non-soapy rag dipped in a bucket of plain clean water. Your engine should be clean enough to put a smile on your face.